Daniel Acosta – Member Spotlight March 2011

What is your occupation and how did you come to work in this field?

I've spent the last 4+ years working as a management/strategy consultant. Moving from DC after finishing my JD/MBA, I was looking for a position that would expose me to a cross-set of industries; provide international opportunities; keep me challenged in working with smart colleagues and with new subject matter (love change); and strengthen a skill set that can be applied to a number of paths.

What is the biggest challenge of your work?

"Careful what you wish for" jumps to mind. Everything that makes the job interesting also makes it challenging. Constant travel, unpredictability, and change can make work-life balance a bit difficult, particularly when you have a passion for pursuing activities and impact area outside of the job, as CUP members do. My firm does a good job of perpetuating the best balance possible, but much of it is the nature of the beast.

What is your proudest achievement?

Easy - working with my brother on his path to Yale. I don't need to tell CUP members the importance of helping those following behind us - but for me it begins with family. Many people have worked hard to open doors and push me forward along my path, but it wasn't as windy as my brother's. It was a special moment to see him transfer from a community college to Yale after a rough start back home in LA schools. I was proud of the hard work he put in but also inspired at seeing the evidence of what proper support can do to change someone's path - and see the "system" recognize that. For this reason, I believe strongly in CUP's commitment to programs like REACH that tap into the potential of our youth.

What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most?

I'll always respect global leaders such as Bill Clinton and Bill Gates as well as inspirational leaders from the past (it's astounding what Gandhi and MLK have inspired in the Middle East). But I most admire the doers that I see working from humble means to accomplish important things, including my parents raising four raucous boys on a modest budget. Traveling in India and Vietnam recently provided even more stark examples of the entrepreneurial spirit and dedication that people put forth in the face of daunting circumstances.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Either one of two paths are equally as likely--I relish in  international business and politics and could see myself running a company overseas. I Just got back from some years in the UAE and Southeast Asia and I'm drawn to the environment of opportunity and challenge provided by emerging markets. Alternatively, I could see myself back in Southern California attempting to have a social impact back home.

What would be your advice to young people who want their careers and lives to have an impact?

Find kindred spirits. Whether mentors, colleagues, or friends, you need to surround yourself with positive energy, inspiration, and knowledge. You need to value and maintain your independence, but we truly are so much more powerful when we work together toward common goals, particularly for social impact - and there's nothing more rewarding than sharing success either as a collaborator or as a mentor. Many successful people depend on networks developed over decades; others of us need to make up for lost time and commit time to working together. That's always been a critical mission of CUP for me.